Ryan Woods talks through his journey through the Shrews academy.
Ryan Woods is another Town academy graduate who has gone on to represent the club over 100 times. Woods, born in Norton Canes, joined the Shrews set-up in 2009 at the age of 15 following his release from Walsall.
The versatile midfielder progressed through the youth ranks at the club and became a key player in Town’s League Two promotion season. Woods has since gone on to represent Brentford and Stoke City in the Sky Bet Championship.
Woods’ journey into the professional game didn’t come without its trials and tribulations - having been released from Walsall due to his size. Shropshire is where Woods forged his career and remembers his time with Town proudly.
“My earliest memory of joining the Town academy would be the day I went down to Walford College for a trial game,” said Woods.
“I played right-back that day, an perhaps didn’t do too well. Luckily they called me back for another game a week later and I played centre midfield.
“As far as I can remember, I pretty much signed forms just a few days after playing that game. It was really important for me at the time as I was released from Walsall.
“Being released because you are too small isn’t great, so when Shrewsbury called and gave me a chance to get back into a professional football club – I felt it was a massive opportunity for me, luckily I managed to take it.
“It was a good experience being in the Town academy, it was fun. I always remember living in digs at Walford College.
“There were 18 lads living there and all sharing one kitchen - you had to grow up fast.
“It was a good environment and somewhere where you had to learn quickly. I think that was all part of growing up in the academy.
“I remember signing my first contract with the club. As you can imagine, it was a very nerve wracking day for everybody involved.
“I was one of the last ones to go in and see Graham Turner and I remember seeing lads coming out without being offered anything.
“It was really nerve wracking, but I managed to do well enough to earn a year contract and it all carried on from there.
“There were a lot of us at that time who managed to come through the academy. Players like Connor Goldson, Jon Taylor and Tom Bradshaw – we all managed to get deals.
“That time was a really progressive time for the club in bringing players through and they still manage to do that now – you only have to look at the team now.
“There is always young lads coming in and they are doing well. Something is definitely right there and it can only be great for a team like Shrewsbury.”
Woods became a key player for Town during his six-year spell in Shropshire, winning a League Two promotion medal under Micky Mellon before leaving the club in 2015.
The midfielder joined Sky Bet Championship side Brentford and later joined Stoke City. Despite moving up a league, Woods was sad to leave Town and has fond memories of the staff that helped develop him into a senior first-team regular.
“I think all young players dream of breaking into the first-team as a kid and I knew I still had a long way to go until making it into the first-team,” said Woods.
“I still had to wait a long time that season. Luckily for me Graham gave me my debut in the second to last game of the season.
“It came against Oldham Athletic and I thoroughly enjoyed it and it gave me a taste of what would be expected of me.
“Dave Hughes was the coach for all of the apprentices at the time. We then went on to work with Michael Jackson.
“There were other people like John Trewick, Graham Turner himself and Tony Ford who were all there.
“I think all of those were the main people who helped me massively and kept pushing me every day to make me the best I could be.
“I feel like I managed to repay the club back for all of the trust and time they put into me.
“I still talk to a few people from the club but unfortunately there isn’t that many people there now from when I was there.
“I still try and get to as many games as I can, when I can. It’s still a massive part of me and I always look out for the results – I always hope they do well.
“My time with the club was brilliant, I loved every minute. Like I said, I still hold the club in very high regard and look out for the results.
“I check every week to see what the club is doing and they’re on a decent little run at the moment and Tyrese is scoring some goals for them.
“I was probably a Walsall fan as a kid, but I’m definitely not any more. Shrewsbury are a club that are close to me.
“Maybe one day in the future I may go back – we will see what happens. That time was unbelievable for me and I will always be forever grateful for what the club did for me.
“It was always important for me to leave the club on good terms and the relegation was a massive opportunity to go into League Two and do as well as we did and get that promotion.
“A few of us got moves to probably bigger and better things after that. Leaving the club was really difficult.
“My last game was against Burton Albion at home and I sort of knew I was going to Brentford after that game.
“It was quite an emotional day really – for me and the family. We all had good friends at the club but that’s football. If there is an opportunity to go to the Championship you have to take it.
“My advice for any young player at Town would be just to work hard. Shrewsbury are a great club who nurture players through.
“You only have to look at the record and the players that have come through and gone on to higher leagues. I would just say work hard, be yourself and try to be the best version of yourself.”